Workflow Evolution

These guest posts from our Library Publishing Workflow partners reflect on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time.

Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
April 21, 2022

Adapting to Employee Turnover

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Jason Colman, writing about his experiences at the University of Michigan Library

In my previous blog post for the LPW project, I mentioned that Michigan Publishing was starting the process of migrating our 40 or so open access journals from our old platform, DLXS, to Janeway. I suggested checking back with me to see if the pain we were experiencing in 2020 had been relieved in 2022. (Was I only talking about workflows there? Not sure.) I’m sure the whole library publishing community has been on tenterhooks waiting for an update, so how are things going at Michigan?

quote from Jason Colman: I’ve discovered that I’m only able to help my team adapt to the temporary absence of a colleague if the workflow that position is responsible for managing is documented very clearly. Like all library publishers, we’ll never have enough redundancy on our teams for this not to be true.

I’m happy to report that about 25 of our journals are now publishing their new issues on Janeway, thanks to the efforts of our editors, production crew, conversion vendor, and developers at Michigan and Janeway. As we were approaching the halfway mark, some other happy news happened that cast a bright spotlight on the importance of workflow documentation: Digital Publishing Coordinator (and my partner on the LPW project at Michigan), Joseph Muller, landed a great new job working for Janeway at the Birkbeck Centre for Technology and Publishing. Suddenly, our original Janeway expert was leaving the team.

It’s never easy to lose a hard-working colleague like Joe, but we were incredibly lucky that he had followed the lessons of the LPW project and created excellent process documentation for publishing our journals on Janeway that the rest of the production team were already using actively every day. Now, six months after Joe’s departure, we have a new Digital Publishing Coordinator hired. She’s learning her job in large part from the documentation he started, and that the team has been refining ever since.

Without a doubt, colleagues at our library publishing operations will (and should!) move on to new opportunities when it makes sense for them to. This is even more true now, I think, with so many interesting roles popping up in the community. I’ve discovered that I’m only able to help my team adapt to the temporary absence of a colleague if the workflow that position is responsible for managing is documented very clearly. Like all library publishers, we’ll never have enough redundancy on our teams for this not to be true.

So, if I’ve learned anything as a manager going through this process, it’s that the best time to write workflow documentation is before you desperately need it, because you will desperately need it.


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
March 2, 2022

Workflow for One

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Michelle Wilson, writing about her experiences at Columbia University Libraries

Columbia University Libraries’ Digital Scholarship division publishes around thirty open access journal titles. We publish in a variety of disciplines (including medicine, law, history, bioethics, musicology) and support both faculty and student-led projects. Our program has been around for over a decade and, like many, has undergone a variety of changes in administration, staffing, and mission. At present, that mission, the day to day work, and the workflows we employ are set by me, as the sole staff member who works on journals at our library. But the program wasn’t always a one-woman show, and the shape of our workflow today has been influenced by the systems that came before and my experiences of stepping into a program in transition when I was hired in 2018. 

Before there was a Digital Scholarship division at Columbia University Libraries, there was the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS). Part of a system of four “Digital Centers” on campus, CDRS was the development and publishing hub, the endpoint for the dissemination of research in a constellation that included Digital Science, Digital Social Science, and Digital Humanities centers. Around 2016, the digital centers were dissolved and the services they had provided were transferred to a new Digital Scholarship unit under the auspices of the University Libraries. 

A diverse project portfolio with bespoke services

CDRS was collaborative and experimented widely. The Digital Scholarship division now manages a wide array of projects developed during the CDRS era, including digital companions to books published by our university press, a bibliographic encyclopedia of female film production pioneers, and a digital commentary on Dante’s Divine Comedy. CDRS also pioneered the open access journals program at Columbia, which came under my (nearly sole) purview when I was hired as the Digital Publishing Librarian. 

Reflecting the same spirit of experimentation that led to a diverse project portfolio, the journals program I inherited utilized a variety of levels of service and publishing technologies. Most journals were published on WordPress, with a few using OJS as a submissions platform, and one journal fully utilizing OJS as an editorial and publishing software. Journals had varying levels of autonomy or reliance on the program. Most were required to meet only once a year with the journals project manager, while one medical journal was a clear standout in receiving extensive custom development, vendor services and production management, APC processing, and consultation. This particular medical journal was the flagship for the program but, although it was undoubtedly a success in library publishing, the attention and time it required meant that everyone else was lagging behind. 

Quote from Michelle Wilson: Looking at the workflow diagram that emerged from the LPW project, I see a reflection of some of the tension I feel in running a program whose operations are overseen end to end by one person while wanting to provide for individualization. Program management has become a careful balancing act, melding standardization and systemization with a personal touch that would permit journals to exercise freedom with regard to their community building, decision making, and editorial processes.

I really struggled to find my footing within this landscape, where there was so much variation in terms of partner expectations as well as infrastructure management. CDRS had a dedicated staff of developers, project managers, and media production specialists overseeing the development of digital projects. Under the new organization, the developers and project managers were absorbed into centralized IT and digital project management units at the Libraries. This meant that I had to compete with other programs for developer time and be strategic and sparing in choosing the softwares I could support. Even having only two publishing softwares used in different combinations made it challenging to respond to development requests, provide technical support, and train partners. The demands of one journal meant that a hands-off approach needed to be taken with most of the other partners, and that left them vulnerable to inculcating poor practice or, especially in the case of fledgling projects and student-led efforts, frustration and lack of momentum that often ended in the folding of the publication. To address these twin pressure points—concern about labor and workload as well as praxis and equity in distributing library services—I decided to heavily standardize the program.

(more…)


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
February 23, 2022

How it Started, How it’s Going: The Undergraduate Economic Review at IWU

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Stephanie Davis-Kahl, writing about her experiences at Ames Library at Illinois Wesleyan University

It all started with a catastrophic server meltdown in the fall of 2008 that erased IWU from the web.

Most of our student journals, which had resided on our website, disappeared. The sites, the pdfs, images – all gone. After everything came back up (in a matter of hours), many files were corrupted or had just simply vanished into the ether. 

The library had just implemented Digital Commons software from bepress, and we had started digitizing the print journals already, however, there was one born-digital journal that was a near-total loss, the Undergraduate Economic Review (UER). The faculty advisor for the UER, Robert S. Eckley Distinguished Professor of Economics Micheal Seeborg, had attended one of our presentations about Digital Commons and reached out to the library to see if we could help save the journal, first of all, and second, if we could use the journal publishing software in Digital Commons to streamline the editorial process. The answer to both, of course, was yes.

Flash forward thirteen years later, and the UER is still going strong: our student editors continue to do stellar work to review articles, the journal has robust, worldwide download statistics, and we regularly receive submissions from undergraduate researchers in economics from around the world. 

UER Roles & Responsibilities

The UER is run by students majoring in Economics at IWU, and the UER is open to any and all undergraduate researchers. A student is selected and compensated for taking on for editor-in-chief responsibilities, and leads the peer reviewers, made up of students who have taken the requisite econometrics and writing courses in the major. 

quote from Stephanie Davis-Kahl: The library’s connection with the UER began with a crisis, but has become a natural extension of our liaison librarian services as well as a visible signature experience for students, building on their Shared Curriculum requirements, writing intensive courses, and major coursework in the department of Economics which includes information literacy throughout their time here at IWU, from first year seminar to senior seminar.

Professor Seeborg has been the faculty advisor since the journal began in 2005, and has mentored many undergraduate research students at IWU. The journal has persevered in large part due to his advocacy, passion for undergraduate research, and belief in open access. An indication and testament to his dedication is the fact that he retired a few years ago, but continues to teach our senior seminar and advise the journal, and as the faculty managing editor of the journal, I couldn’t be more grateful for his continued involvement.

The work begins at the start of the academic year, when the new editor in chief, senior seminar and other interested students, and Professor Seeborg meet with me to get an overview of the purpose of the UER, how they will evaluate articles using a set of criteria developed over time, how to work in the Digital Commons software, and how to provide professional feedback to authors. Professor Seeborg works with the students to norm the evaluative criteria by using past published submissions, and the editor in chief then assigns students their first article to review. Professor Seeborg and I are on hand throughout the rest of the academic year to answer questions about submissions or about Digital Commons, but our editor in chief and student peer reviewers do all the editorial work of reviewing and recommending articles for publication. The issue is closed in late April or May, and if submissions come in the summer, I communicate with authors to let them know when our review cycle will restart. A new editor is appointed by the faculty in the department in late spring or over the summer, and they come into the journal with experience reviewing articles as a sophomore or junior, so they are well-versed in the journal’s purpose from the outset.

Library’s Role

The library’s connection with the UER began with a crisis, but has become a natural extension of our liaison librarian services as well as a visible signature experience for students, building on their Shared Curriculum requirements, writing intensive courses, and major coursework in the department of Economics which includes information literacy throughout their time here at IWU, from first year seminar to senior seminar. The fact that the journal is born-digital, peer reviewed, and intentionally open access from its inception is a testament to the students’ continued dedication to the journal over time; they understand and accept the responsibility to use their disciplinary knowledge of economics, economics research, econometrics, and writing to improve and share the work of their worldwide peers. It has been a privilege to work alongside both Professor Seeborg and the students on the Undergraduate Economic Review, and I look forward to reading the journal for years to come.

 


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
February 16, 2022

Fewer Steps for Fewer Journals: Sunsetting a Journal Publishing Program

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Isaac Gilman, writing about his experiences at Pacific University Libraries

Over the two years of the Library Publishing Workflows project, our documented journal publishing workflow for Pacific University Libraries has become much leaner. This is not because we’ve learned to do the work more efficiently—rather, it reflects the fact that we are doing less journal publishing overall now. For someone who, over six years ago, proclaimed that publishing should be considered a core service for academic libraries, and even said (insert wry smile here) that “Journal publishing has a [low] threshold to entry,” this feels sadly ironic to admit. So, what has changed for Pacific?

Quote from Isaac Gilman: While I still believe that small-p publishing (in the small-c catholic sense) should be a core service for libraries, what has become clear to me over the last several years is that “low threshold to entry” has the corollary of “high threshold for maintenance”: it’s easy to start publishing journals, but to do it well, continuously, requires a significant investment of time and resources (primarily people). While I still believe that small-p publishing (in the small-c catholic sense) should be a core service for libraries, what has become clear to me over the last several years is that “low threshold to entry” has the corollary of “high threshold for maintenance”: it’s easy to start publishing journals, but to do it well, continuously, requires a significant investment of time and resources (primarily people). Pacific’s involvement in this project has reminded me just how well many of our colleagues—at institutions small and large—are doing this work, and of the necessity of committed, ongoing stewardship to ensure that a journal remains a vibrant and visible home for a community of scholars and learners. And as we have tried to keep doing more with less (or the same) within the University Libraries in general over the past five years, I have been forced to admit that we don’t have the capacity to provide that type of ongoing stewardship for the journals that we were hosting and publishing, and that they would be better served at other institutions. With that in mind, we have migrated the majority of our journals to new homes at other libraries or non-profit publishers, keeping only two with close ties to academic programs at Pacific that require relatively low levels of support from the Libraries.

Shifting focus to monographs

As we have effectively wound down the journal publishing program, we have—perhaps counterintuitively—continued to invest time and resources in publishing work that could be perceived as having a higher threshold to entry: monograph publishing. While publishing books is in some ways more complex than publishing journals, and the scope of individual book projects can occasionally be daunting, each book is a finite project that doesn’t require the type of ongoing stewardship, year after year, that a journal requires. Books can be individually budgeted for and scheduled; if we don’t have resources or capacity to publish a book in a given year, we can decide not to—with no detrimental impact on the books that we’ve published before or the books that we will publish after. This is not to say that books don’t require some ongoing obligation; among other things, permissions may need to be renewed after several years “in print,” and author royalties for any revenue need to be tracked and paid. But in general, our book publishing program is able to roll with any financial or staffing interruptions we experience; it’s our publishing version of an earthquake-proofed building…it may shake a bit when things get rough, but it returns to its original shape and position.

There are tradeoffs, of course, to focusing our publishing program almost entirely on books. Our overall publishing output is lower—which means we aren’t creating as many opportunities for as many different authors to share their ideas and knowledge as we were before, and we aren’t contributing to the body of openly available scholarship as extensively as we were before. But my hope is that the quality of our engagement with each work we publish will be better—that we are able to take the time to focus on helping each book take its ideal shape in the eyes of its author(s) and its intended audience(s). And, while this is currently an aspiration and not a reality, I also hope that our focus on monograph publishing will directly support the creation of more free, open textbooks by Pacific’s faculty—ultimately benefiting both Pacific students and others across many institutions. As the Libraries increase our focus on affordability and open educational resources initiatives, I see greater opportunity for us to have a positive impact on student costs and student success through open book publishing than we did through our limited journal publishing program (if only for the perhaps simplistic reason that it is currently far easier for students to get free articles through library subscriptions or interlibrary loan than it is for us to license an unlimited user copy of a required textbook or otherwise provide access to similar required monographic course readings for every student).

What library publishing looks like

When the question of whether libraries should be publishers was beginning to be more broadly discussed a decade ago, common questions were about what ‘library publishing’ should look like and whether libraries in general were equipped to (or should even aspire to) maintain the same processes and standards as traditional publishers. It was within that context that Pacific started our journal publishing program—with the goal not only of contributing to the fight against the increasing commodification of scholarship but of creating publishing venues and publications marked by the quality that authors and readers expected. As we sunset our journal program and turn our focus more fully to books, I am proud to be able to say that our goals remain that same, and that those former questions have been definitively answered. The participants in this workflows project are prime examples of the extent to which libraries have been able to meet the standards established by our publishing peers and forebears, and Pacific is one of many examples of what ‘library publishing’ should look like: whatever we want it to (or, less succinctly: whatever we determine will best meet the needs of our communities and allow us to be responsible stewards of our authors’ work).


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
February 9, 2022

Library Publishing Values: Collaboration, Capacity, and Control

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Robert Browder, writing about his experiences at University Libraries at Virginia Tech

The opportunity to take a step back from one’s own work and get perspective on it with the help of others in the field is an experience of incredible value. This can certainly be true for those involved in publishing open access journals from within a library. The LPC created just such an opportunity with the Library Publishing Workflows Project. The opportunity to participate in the project alongside other library publishers large and small has expanded my view of what is possible in the field. The opportunity to document, compare, and contrast workflows across institutions is invaluable and has helped me dial up my understanding of what works and why. It’s a privilege to be able to share the outcomes of this project with the world.

quote from Robert Browder: Do library publishers exist to facilitate experiential learning in the field of publishing or do they exist for the purpose of producing publications? In many cases, I believe it's some of both, and that is just fine. But, making conscious decisions about how the capacity of a publishing department is spent is essential to being able to predictably deliver services.So, what is the best workflow for libraries who wish to publish journals? It depends. While our documented workflows provide a progression of steps that describe the production work performed by publishers, the greater context within which a particular workflow succeeds is much tougher to represent. The LPC’s Library Publishing Directory is probably the best resource available for gathering context. For best results, I recommend using these workflow documents in combination with the Library Publishing Directory entry for each institution. Together, these documents form a clearer picture than either of them do on their own. However, even with both of these documents in hand the picture may still not be completely clear. 

While both the workflows documents and the Library Publishing Directory entries hint at it, neither of them address in depth the values of the communities that library publishers serve. I believe understanding and interfacing with those values to be key in shaping successful workflows. While a commitment to open access brings with it a fairly predictable set of shared values, the values conversation does not stop there. Beyond open access, those in library publishing may encounter another set of values that apply to the control of editorial and production processes. We can broach the topic with a simple question: who should be in control of editorial and production processes, publishers or scholars?

Editorial and production process control can be seen as existing on a continuum. Let’s imagine that scholars exist at one end of the continuum and publishers exist at the other. Who holds control of publishing processes determines how the productive capacity of publishing departments is spent. 

The less control publishing departments have, the more of their productive capacity is spent in supporting the choices of scholars who do have control. This grants scholars more freedom to experiment and make choices about editorial and production processes. In this paradigm the act of producing a publication is a learning experience for the scholar. Facilitating this experience is a valid way for a library publisher to create value for one’s community. 

At the other end of the continuum, the more control publishing departments have, the more they are able to standardize their production processes, thereby creating the ability to publish higher volumes of scholarship. In this paradigm the act of publishing is more about sharing scholarship, ideas, and research. This too is a valid way to create value for one’s community.

In the context of a publishing department that does not exert control over publishing processes, productive capacity is initiated through budget and staffing, but capacity is ultimately determined by the scholars the department chooses to support. The productive capacity of such departments is subject to the skills, experience, and time that scholars bring with them to the collaboration. Thus, partners must be chosen carefully and they should be helped to understand the levels of responsibility and stewardship they are taking on as a collaborator with the publishing department.

In the context of a publishing department that does exert control over publishing processes, productive capacity is initiated through budget and staffing, but maintained through carefully chosen workflows and a commitment to strictly adhere to those workflows. When publishers hold control and enforce a systematic process, opportunities for creativity and experimentation in the publication process are diminished for scholars. However, opportunities for producing and sharing a greater volume of scholarship may be increased.

In practice, scholars and library publishers are interdependent and, though it may not be explicitly addressed, share control of editorial and production processes based on what is feasible given available resources. The balance of control may be tilted to either side based on the values of the community of scholars which the publisher serves. The balance of control in either direction may also shift over time with the capacities of those involved or with changes in budget and staffing. The balance of control has profound impacts on the type of work that library publishers do and the workflows they use to achieve results. 

Viewing control of productive capacity in this way begs the question: do library publishers exist to facilitate experiential learning in the field of publishing or do they exist for the purpose of producing publications? In many cases, I believe it’s some of both, and that is just fine. But, making conscious decisions about how the capacity of a publishing department is spent is essential to being able to predictably deliver services. It’s fine and dandy to publish scholarship and/or facilitate the publishing experience for scholars. But, it’s important to know the difference between these two facets of library publishing and the capacity implications that come along with them.

 


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
February 2, 2022

Doing more with less, and making it good

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Vanessa Gabler, writing about her experiences at The University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh

Do more with less, and make it good. That’s how I think of our publishing program, and it informs many of our decisions about workflows at the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh (ULS). This is evident in our publishing workflows, as you can see in our Library Publishing Workflows documentation. We provide our journals with training, tools, resources, support, and a final metadata quality control check at the time of publication, but they are doing the editorial and production work themselves. With this approach, we can publish a significant number of journals with limited library resources. That same ethos has guided the development of a workflow for evaluating and accepting new journal partners.

Expanding the publishing program

quote from Vanessa Gabler: Some of the early journals we accepted weren’t completely aligned with our mission to support open access to scholarly research, lacked the staff resources to support timely ongoing journal publication, or presented some other mismatch between the goals or structure of our program and the nature of the journal. These partnerships weren’t allowing us to do more with less, and make it good; they were taking up our limited resources (the less) with activities that weren’t completely aligned with our mission (to do more), and the results weren’t always good.In the early days of our publishing program (2008–2011), we were flipping Pitt faculty print subscription journals to online with delayed open access, starting new open access journals with Pitt Faculty, and then taking on new and existing open access journals from non-Pitt partners around the world. We were so excited! And we still are, but we learned some lessons along the way. Some of the early journals we accepted weren’t completely aligned with our mission to support open access to scholarly research, lacked the staff resources to support timely ongoing journal publication, or presented some other mismatch between the goals or structure of our program and the nature of the journal. These partnerships weren’t allowing us to do more with less, and make it good; they were taking up our limited resources (the less) with activities that weren’t completely aligned with our mission (to do more), and the results weren’t always good.

Focusing on mission alignment

So, we created selection criteria for our program and began asking prospective journals to complete a journal proposal form (2011). The selection criteria are a first pass to determine whether a journal fits with our mission. The journal proposal form is a deeper dive into the journal’s scope, people, policies, resources, and other pieces of information that help us to determine whether a partnership will be a good match. A journal proposal is the beginning of a collaborative process, and journals often learn for the first time what kinds of things they need to have in place to make a journal successful.

We also formed a Publications Advisory Board to review these proposals and make recommendations about whether to accept a journal (2012; it also provides input on our program policies and general direction). That process has also been collaborative, with Board members offering valuable advice to journals entering our program. We began soliciting external peer reviews by subject experts of journal proposals to assist the Board with making their recommendations (2019).

So how do selection criteria, a journal proposal form, a Publications Advisory Board, and external peer reviewers help us do more with less, and make it good? We standardized our service offerings and some journal policies to those that support our mission across journals, which promotes efficiencies for our staff (the day-to-day more). We partner with journals that are aligned with our mission to have an impact on the Open Access movement (the big more). We educate prospective journals about the resources, skills, and staffing needed to successfully run a journal in the long term, particularly in our program (how we do what we do with less). And we trust that our evaluation process, the program’s structure, and the ongoing relationships we cultivate with our journals will…make it good.

 


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
January 20, 2022

Sustainable and Thoughtful Growth

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Jennifer Beamer, Ph.D., writing about her experiences at The Claremont Colleges Library

In 2012, The Claremont Colleges launched an Open Access journal publishing program. Through its institutional repository, Scholarship@Claremont, we now have nine active journals that the library hosts and supports. The journals must be edited or sponsored by a faculty member of one of the seven Claremont Colleges campuses. The Library helps onboard and set up the journal, onboard the editors, and offers some minor services like ISSN registration, assigning DOIs, and training on peer review. 

Our strongest journals, the ones that have had the most longevity have been CODEE, the Community of Ordinary Differential Equations Educators, and the Mime Journal. Recently, our newer journals like Envirolab Asia have been very interdisciplinary, and focus not only on articles, but also on events that coincide with the papers. 

Quote from Jennifer Beamer: If we are to be “different than traditional” publishers, we need to understand the role we play, and offer services that are better and distinct from those of the closed journals and that will make faculty WANT to publish with us!

Over the past year of working with the Library Publishing Workflows partners and Educopia, I have realized three things: 1) our workflows are really simple! 2) this means we have a lot of room for growth, 3) we don’t want to grow too much! 

Some simple things that we have planned to do this year to make our workflows more sustainable—that I have humbly and am so grateful to have learned from the other partners—are that is necessary to set up a journal proposal form for faculty to apply to, to have some selection criteria, and to form a Publications Advisory Board. In the past, we have been a “boutique publishing model,” and we have standardized our service offerings and some journal policies to those that support our mission across journals, which will promote efficiencies for our staff (as there are only 2 of us). As well, the most important is we need to partner only with faculty that have journals that are aligned with our mission to have an impact on the Open Access movement.  

In the coming year, I would also like to keep having discussions about the library as a publisher and its role as a gatekeeper in the publishing process. If we are to be “different than traditional” publishers, we need to understand the role we play, and offer services that are better and distinct from those of the closed journals and that will make faculty WANT to publish with us!


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
November 17, 2021

On Overcommitment and Scalability, Love and Loss

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Joshua Neds-Fox, writing about his experiences at Wayne State University Libraries

In my earlier blog post for this project, I reflected on the challenges of scaling up and the rewards of participating in a community of practice whose affinities are often more abundant than our differences. My own library publishing program’s contribution to the Library Publishing Workflows project is based on a unique process for our oldest faculty-led journal, the Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods (or JMASM, as we often refer to it in shorthand). What a remarkable publication for a new program to cut our teeth on! JMASM is math-heavy, which required mastering new software and learning new character sets and conventions, exploring TeX, MathML, and other forms of equation rendering, and just generally beginning our publishing program with the most complicated project possible. But we did it, because the editor placed his trust in us and we saw multiple opportunities: to support open access research at Wayne State and at the same time learn on the job what it means to be a library publisher.

Overcommitment

In pursuit of those opportunities, we took on the production responsibilities for JMASM, typesetting every issue ourselves. In retrospect, this was an overcommitment, and I wrote earlier about the ways that this limits our ability to scale up. Our commitment was complicated by the fact that JMASM has been very generous in its acceptance rate and publishing schedule: some issues topped 40 articles or more. As we slowly slipped further and further behind schedule, the ambient stress of that commitment weighed heavily on me, and I worked with the editor to implement practices that would make the journal more selective, including strict policies around text-recycling, which is common in JMASM’s discipline.

Quote from Joshua Neds-Fox, Wayne State University: I now see this workflow as a kind of bellwether for our current predicament: the intense labor encoded there is an indication of the thinness of the editorial structure supporting the journal, and a sign for other library publishers. Consider the cost in advance. If taking on the journal requires outsized labor on the library's end, it may mean that the journal itself has some difficult questions to answer about its sustainability and future.

But behind this stress was the reality that JMASM was essentially a one-man show, editorially. The founding editor continued to shoulder the entire herculean burden of managing and editing the journal, as a labor of love and a commitment to the scholarship of his discipline. In truth, our offer to publish JMASM when he first came to us was a lifeline that both rescued the journal from dying and extended its life a little unnaturally. JMASM’s editor was a remarkable man, one of those principled academics devoted to his field, to his students, to his ethics and to his work. When he passed away in January, it was a shock and a surprise. An intensely private man, he had hidden his illness, its severity, from everyone. In retrospect, there were signs that he anticipated his death, but hindsight is 20/20. We found ourselves with a novel challenge, never having dealt with the death of an editor, which in this case was also the dissolution of the entire editorial team. We’d known for a while that the associate editors for JMASM were consultative at best, and that the founding editor was doing the work. But his death made crystal clear the implications of this common aspect of library publishing: that we do not manage the editorial teams of our journals in quite the same way that commercial publishers do. We had neither process nor mandate to assemble a replacement editorial staff for JMASM.

Moving on from loss

We reached out to a colleague of the founding editor, who served briefly and did yeoman’s work to try to tie up the loose ends. But the number of papers in review—either currently awaiting reviews, or accepted with a request for minor revisions, or returned for major revisions—spoke of the founding editor’s failure to imagine a future where he wasn’t available to continue his work. The backlog was bigger than we understood, and the work ahead of us will entail incredibly difficult decisions. What are our obligations to these scholars who have no recourse to the editorial expertise necessary to advance their papers to publication? What are our obligations to the Journal’s heirs, who now own an ongoing scholarly journal but may not know exactly what to do with it? How are any of these process realities reflected in the workflow we’ve created for the Library Publishing Workflows project? To that last question, I now see this workflow as a kind of bellwether for our current predicament: the intense labor encoded there is an indication of the thinness of the editorial structure supporting the journal, and a sign for other library publishers. Consider the cost in advance. If taking on the journal requires outsized labor on the library’s end, it may mean that the journal itself has some difficult questions to answer about its sustainability and future. And if, like Wayne State, your library publishing program does not manage editorial staff for its journals, consider whether your workflow doesn’t cross the line into fulfilling promises that the editorial staff makes on your behalf. The founding editor is gone, but the promises remain.

On a personal note, I miss JMASM’s editor. He was, as I said, remarkable: an Orthodox Rabbi and lifelong educator who provided a scholarly outlet for statisticians from across Asia, Africa, and North America in a discipline that had no journal prior to his, a mentor and a friend. My hope is that the lessons learned here do honor to his commitment to the pedagogy of assessment: that we would take away from this workflow and this experience the knowledge of how to do better for the next journals that come our way, and that we would put that knowledge into practice.


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
November 10, 2021

Small. Determined.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Paige Mann, writing about her experiences at Armacost Library, University of Redlands

Our library publishes one scholarly journal. Maybe one day we’ll publish two. Maybe. 

In 2013, the Armacost Library at the University of Redlands launched its library publishing program. Through our digital repository, InSPIRe@Redlands, Armacost Library publishes student scholarship, grey literature, and more. Four years after our launch Dr. Nicol Howard, professor from our School of Education, approached us to start a scholarly journal. She and co-editor Dr. Keith Howard from Chapman University saw a need for scholarship with a focus on computer science integrations in the K-12 classroom. To overcome paywalls and reach scholars and practitioners, the editors pursued open access publishing. A few months, documents, and policies later we launched the Journal of Computer Science Integration (JCSI)

Quote from Paige Mann, Redlands: Compared to our fellow partners in Educopia’s Library Publishing Workflows project, Armacost Library’s journal publishing program is pint-sized. Nevertheless, change is constant, and Armacost Library is making a difference in small, but significant ways. We are small. We are determined.

As a non-commercial, values-oriented publisher of a bold and innovative journal, we strive to anticipate and respond to needs as they arise. With the hiring of a STEM and Scholarly Communications Librarian in 2017 and a part-time Digital Projects Manager in 2018, the Library provides a mission-oriented publishing foundation for our editors. Responsibilities include ISSN registration, general publishing guidance, policy development, open access education, platform management and funding, basic training and troubleshooting. Day-to-day responsibilities are primarily the assignment of digital object identifiers which is reflected in the publishing workflow. 

Platform Migration

This past summer, one year into the global pandemic, Armacost Library chose to migrate off our bepress Digital Commons platform. Sharing librarians’ deep concerns over Elsevier’s acquisition of bepress in 2017, Armacost Library waited patiently for alternative options to emerge. Although wary of migrating from one commercial vendor to another, we chose to work with Ubiquity Press, who provided the migration and on-going support we’d need to continue our publishing efforts. Our contract with Ubiquity also brought considerable savings. This has allowed us to pay for professional typesetting and articles in .pdf and .html formats. The former directly supports our editors while the latter enhances article accessibility. Both formats grant readers more flexibility enabling use of various devices and screen reading software, the ability to increase or decrease font size, annotate digital texts, and more. Cost savings have also allowed us to support open access efforts that were previously impossible.  

Compared to our fellow partners in Educopia’s Library Publishing Workflows project, Armacost Library’s journal publishing program is pint-sized. Nevertheless, change is constant, and Armacost Library is making a difference in small, but significant ways. We are small. We are determined.


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
November 3, 2021

University of Alberta Library’s Changing Role in Publishing

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Sonya Betz, writing about her experiences at the University of Alberta Library

The University of Alberta is located in Edmonton, Alberta, and is one of Canada’s large research intensive universities. Our journal publishing program is now more than 15 years old, with the publication of the first issues of our first journal, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, in the spring of 2006. We’ve experienced sustained growth since those early days, and we now publish 70 active titles, host the archives of 13 ceased or transferred publications, and are working with about a dozen new journals as they move toward publishing their first issues with us. Twenty-four of our active publications are run by student groups, or exclusively publish students’ work, while the rest come from a mix of scholarly associations, professional associations, faculty groups, and research communities. Although we publish titles across a range of disciplines from construction engineering to constitutional law, all of our journals must have an affiliation with either a Canadian post-secondary institution or a Canadian scholarly, learned, or professional association. All of our journals are fully open access, and none of our journals charge APCs or other publishing fees. Recently we’ve begun partnering with other libraries in Canada to provide infrastructure hosting services for their own open journal publishing programs.

From Hosting Service to Publishing Partner

Quote from Sonya Betz, University of Alberta: [Approaching our relationship with journals as a partnership rather than a service] represents a significant shift for us in how we understand our role in this work—as more journals join our program...we’ve become increasingly comfortable taking a principled stance for ethical open access, and requiring the journals we partner with to agree to standards such as barrier-free open access, no APCs, and Creative Commons licenses.

During its early years, the publishing program was structured strictly as a hosting service, with the Library providing technical infrastructure through access to hosted instances of Open Journal Systems. However, as the program matured over time, and the Library developed expertise and confidence in publishing practices, we began to more fully occupy the role of publisher. In the last five years we’ve focused on documenting our procedures and policies, establishing consistent shared practices, and approaching our relationship with journals as a partnership rather than a service. This change represents a significant shift for us in how we understand our role in this work—as more journals join our program, and we establish a record of successful publishing partnerships, we’ve become increasingly comfortable taking a principled stance for ethical open access, and requiring the journals we partner with to agree to standards such as barrier-free open access, no APCs, and Creative Commons licenses. We feel much more comfortable saying “no” to journals that don’t fit the scope of our program, or who aren’t suitably prepared to publish. 

We’ve been fortunate to have increased our staffing levels over the past three years to reflect the growth of our program and the Library’s recognition of the strategic value of a home-grown open access publishing unit. Our team splits its time between journal publishing, OER, and digitization activities, and we estimate our current staffing for journal publishing to be about 1.5 FTE librarians, .5 FTE library publishing specialists, and approximately .25 FTE technical / systems staff, with occasional support from our staff external to our unit, and paid graduate student positions. We also frequently call on the expertise of staff from many other areas of the Library, especially for help with copyright and licensing, cataloguing and metadata, outreach to individual faculties and departments, and communications. Our costs are predominantly staffing, with smaller expenditures going to supporting hardware and systems, and to external services like CrossRef. We are funded entirely from our operations budget, and we do not charge back any of our costs to journals.

Visible and Invisible Work

Our current library publishing workflow certainly represents our position as a large, mature program, with staff dedicated to publishing activities. Our workflows are also a reflection of the platform we use to publish, Open Journal Systems, which manages many activities from submission through publication, and to a certain degree, provides structure for how we move through publishing processes. We found it a little challenging to capture in the workflow much of the behind-the-scenes work that we carry out across all stages of publication, often in the form of guidance and consultation, training, and troubleshooting. Although the workflow presents clear areas of responsibility for Library staff and editorial teams, in reality the Library is very much involved at every step of the process, from answering questions about updating an author agreement to providing a pep talk to a new editorial team before they click “publish” for their first issue. We hope that sharing our workflow will provide some insight into the work we do, and may encourage other institutions to think about how best to capture the visible and invisible work of their library publishing programs.


Library Publishing Workflows. Educopia Institute. Library Publishing Coalition. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
October 27, 2021

Transforming Services and Infrastructure at Robert W. Woodruff Library

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Workflow Evolution series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on how journal publishing workflows at their libraries have evolved over time. You can see the full documentation on the Library Publishing Workflows page.


By Josh Hogan, writing about his experiences at Robert W. Woodruff Library at Atlanta University Center

Library publishing activities at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library have undergone something of a transformation in the past six years, a transformation that has only picked up speed since joining the Library Publishing Workflows grant in 2019. AUC Woodruff Library currently hosts six active journals, four on Public Knowledge Project’s Open Journal Systems software (OJS) and two on our Islandora-based repository, RADAR. When I joined the team at AUC Woodruff in 2015, there were several journals being hosted in bepress’ Digital Commons platform, only two of which were actively producing any content. Those two journals still exist as the two using RADAR as their access platform.

Starting a Library Publishing Program

Josh Hogan: Ultimately, our transition from Digital Commons to RADAR/OJS has enabled us to provide more services, but has necessitated two main workflows as represented in our workflow diagram published as part of the Library Publishing Workflows. And of course, we are still struggling with exceptions to our usual practices.During that period, our workflows were largely confined to uploading final PDF copies of journal issues and ensuring that any technical issues, which rarely occurred, were addressed. Our workflow could then be really represented as follows: 1) the journal editor emails a final copy of the issue to a member of the Digital Services Department, and 2) the Metadata and Digital Resources Librarian (my title at the time) uploads the final copy into Digital Commons and makes it available for download. All editorial functions and publishing workflows were confined to the individual practices of the journal’s editorial team.

In 2016, we added the optional service of assigning DOIs for journal articles published in the system, which added an optional workflow step of registering the DOI and adding it to the journal article’s metadata. This was not widely adopted by the editors and remained more theoretical than a concrete step. We also on-boarded a new (but currently defunct) student journal in 2016-17, which added the wrinkle of splitting an issue PDF into articles and helping create metadata for individual articles. We offered that service to the other existing journals and reorganized some of the content in Digital Commons to make articles more discoverable.

Migration to a New Institutional Repository

All of this added up to a rather ad hoc approach, tailored to the requests of the editors who avoided using any of the backend submission tools available in Digital Commons, preferring to stay with their email-based workflows. Then, in 2017, we decided to start moving toward a new system for our institutional repository and digital collections. Digital Commons had been an excellent choice for IR needs, but it was not well suited for digitized and born digital archival collections. As most of you have probably experienced, we yearned for one system that could do everything well. Unfortunately, we were not able to find that unicorn.

In the end, we adopted Islandora for our institutional repository and digital collections, but we found that it was unsuitable for journal publishing beyond sticking up PDF files. Therefore, we adopted OJS as our replacement for that functionality. We did so, however, with the understanding that any journals wishing to use the platform would agree to use the backend editorial workflows and not just display finished pdfs. Any journals who wished to use their own workflows would still use our existing ad hoc system, i.e., send us the finished copy for upload to RADAR. OJS users signed an agreement to use the whole system and to publish at least one issue a year.

Adapting Workflows & Services to New Infrastructure

These changes necessitated having a workflow in place to onboard and track the status of each journal and which platform they preferred. We also had to adopt a journal hosting agreement, spelling out what was expected of journals using the OJS platform as well as what they could expect from us. We also provided at least one overview training session and assisted editors with getting their teams registered for PKP School, PKP’s online training courses.

Our support at the beginning of the process includes assistance with selecting a theme, adding banners and logos, and other initial setup tasks. Once the journal is ready to accept submissions, they take over the workflow for the remainder of the process, with us providing technical support or additional training when needed. After publication, if the journal has opted for adding DOIs, we will provide registration of each article and update the metadata to reflect the DOI.

Ultimately, our transition from Digital Commons to RADAR/OJS has enabled us to provide more services, but has necessitated two main workflows as represented in our workflow diagram published as part of the Library Publishing Workflows. And of course, we are still struggling with exceptions to our usual practices. For example, one journal, published in RADAR, has the additional step of maintaining an embargo for on-campus readers and subscribers only. We have also developed and are working to refine workflows in OJS for publishing electronic theses and dissertations, a use that diverges somewhat from the purpose of OJS. Being a partner in this project, however, has helped us to be more deliberate in constructing our library publishing support and has provided us with the opportunity to learn best practices from more experienced institutions. The lessons learned will stand us in good stead as we grow our program.